I had a ph call a couple of weeks back from my old hunting buddy Gibbo. He had told me his Mum had managed to secure him a bow hunt on a farm we used to hunt together as young guys. The farm had changed hands and we had since lost access, however the new owner was more than happy to let Nik up for a hunt for his 30th provided he was shooting a bow and we kept to our old haunt, the forestry block.
I offered to tag along, photograph and carry all his crap, pretty much a repeat of the old days. This was how I got the nick name Sherpa, Nik needed someone to organise him and carry his crap. This was usually me.
Off to bed early after a few nightcaps, the morning came way too soon and before long 2 jaded mates were smashing back bacon and eggs waiting for the third member of our party to join us, Mash. He was to complete his Sherpa apprenticeship today.
The truck loaded with enough camo clothing to sink a ship and we were off. Half an hour later we were sitting in the truck waiting for it to get light, taking the mickey out of each other (just like old times) and sipping contently on energy drinks. Just on first light I pulled my binos up to check the edge of the pines only to see a large stag outlined on the skyline. I watched and 1 turned into 3, only 2 of which were sporting any headgear, we were too far away to judge the head, but it looked plenty big enough to me. A plan was hatched and Nik geared up and off through the creek and up onto what used to be a track. The track was now gorse around head height, the first bit wasn’t flash for Nik, luckily it was so cold his legs were numb and couldn’t feel the gorse.
Mash and I sat and watched his progress up the track giving him reports via radio on the stags at the top, we watched them feed, play and drag their heads round on the ground, looked like they were trying to shed their antlers. Before long they had feed through the saddle and onto the other side. But we had noticed Nik on the track go into stalk mode, before long another stag he had been stalking had been spooked by a small pig between Nik and the stag and left the scene a little unsure of what was going on.
We watched Nik stalk his way through the saddle and disappear. We shifted our concentration back to another 3 deer we had spotted on the neighbour’s side of the fence. These guys were playing round chasing each other and play fighting in the sun, they really didn’t give a shit we were there, and they had good reason, they were as safe as houses from us on that side of the fence.
Not long later Nik came back through the saddle and was walking quickly back down the track, he picked up his pack and radio and I started giving him stick from my end. He assured me there was one very dead deer on the other side of the saddle, which he had left for us to help him find.
After picking Nik up we drove round the back and got onto the track on the southern side of the block. From memory it was a shorter easier track than the one Nik had used in the morning, he didn’t have a choice due to the wind direction. We trekked up the track slowly, spooking another 3 deer down the bottom and another good stag about half way up.
Nik had said he couldn’t see what kind of head his deer had, but he did say it was small and he didn’t have long to make the shot due to how close he was, so he took the cull stag rather than risk messing it up altogether.
We found Niks mark he left from where he shot, he pointed out where the stag was standing. We found a solid blood trail and began tracking.
The blood trail got heavier, a broken arrow covered in blood was found and after around 30 yards we found one very dead spiker.
Nik was ecstatic, we had spotted 10 deer and had one down all before 9am. Mash was given a quick lesson in gutting a deer, in the midst of all this a handful of pigs were spotted back down where we had come from feeding in the sun. We decided Nik wasn’t going to get many opportunities like this so he took off in pursuit of the pigs while Mash and I started the long slog back to the truck with his deer.
It was a mission to get him back on the track, but we got their eventually with Mash doing most of the carrying.
Once on the track I could give him a hand a bit more and the going got a bit easier, but still knocked two unfit lightweights round.
Nik’s stalk on the pigs didn’t go to plan, so we headed for the truck, by this time it was pushing 1pm. All talking turns at the carry and dragging the beast the final stretch, we finally made it back to the truck. Some well deserved lunch and some ice cold water from the creek was a welcome end to a massive mission.
We trucked out slowly finding some goats on the edge of the track, Nik put in a quick unorthodox stalk and quickly secured a young billy with the bow, another perfect shot.
Home for some grub and a few beers, by evening we were knackered and in bed ready for day 2. Up a bit later and much slower than the day before, Mash had to leave early to go back to Chch, so it was up to Nik, His Dad Johnnie and I for day 2. We mucked around and finally got back to the property much later than anticipated. This didn’t make much difference though, first up a mob of pigs spotted and stalked, swirling wind buggered these up for us. We sat and watched 2 small suckers come back for a feed, we stalked to 10m for a look and watched them feed for a while, I tried to move just a touch closer for a photo and broke a stick, they left the scene hastily. We carried on spotting and stalking several other mobs of pigs, but the swirling wind in the basins meant we never got close enough for a shot with the bow. We gave up defeated, but extremely happy with what was one awesome weekend of hunting, one we won’t forget for many many years.
Happy Birthday Mate, hope it was a good one.
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